Duke MMS Student Blog
From Shakespeare to Fuqua: The Transition to Business School
Before my transition to business school, I had not studied business. During my undergraduate years, I immersed myself in liberal arts studies by pursuing a double major in English and Chinese literature.
During my junior year, I faced the crucial decision of which area of study I should pursue as my future career path. I figured out that my personality and interests did not really match that of a literary scholar or professor. Therefore, I decided to try different industries to find out what I really wanted to do.
My Internship Experiences
I started my first internship in a media company, working as an intern reporter. My major responsibility was to follow senior reporters to interview diverse people and events every day. Although I enjoyed writing stories and communicating with different people, I felt an internal drive to do more strategic and analytical things. Therefore immediately after the first internship, I decided to try a business-related industry.
At that time, I was a literature student without a business background. To get the first internship was really a challenge for me, especially when I had to compete with many business students. I was fortunate to get an internship at a German wholesale company called Metro Group through networking. During the 2-month internship, I learned how to present sales reports, mediate customers’ dissatisfaction, and systemize the supply chain and products.
The whole process gave me a strong sense of achievement that I had not experienced before. I came to realize that although the transition from liberal arts to business might be challenging, it was still possible as long as I was willing to work for it.
After working in the wholesale company, I endeavored to diversify my understanding of business by interning in different business functions including consulting, banking, marketing, etc. These experiences not only broadened my practical knowledge, but also helped me transition to business school and achieve admission into the MMS: FOB program.
MMS Continues My Transition
The most valuable thing the MMS program has provided me so far is the opportunity to combine my previous liberal arts education and internship experience with the necessary skills to be a well-rounded businessperson.
This is my first time receiving comprehensive academic training in business, and I found out that the ways of thinking in literature and business are fundamentally different. Literature cherishes transcendental perception, while business emphasizes practical problem solving. Literature discourages utilitarian drive, while business is in most cases result-oriented.
For me, the first month in MMS was more about getting used to a new way of thinking than a new field of knowledge. However, once I had gotten used to it, I found out how interesting it was to combine a literary way of thinking with the business mindset. For example, marketing is a course in which you need to both apply your quantitative skill and creative thinking ability when conducting analysis. In almost all industries, creativity and perceptual ability are always emphasized for a successful businessperson.
Working in teams—which is heavily emphasized at Fuqua—is even better for creating interdisciplinary ideas. My study team has 6 students and we pursued 5 different majors in undergraduate study. When working on a case we generate ideas from our diverse backgrounds, and the discussion always creates interesting insights that help us to better understand the question.
When you successfully integrate what you have learned previously with what you are learning and doing now, although they might be drastically different, the sense of fulfillment will always encourage you to work harder and more efficiently. MMS gives me the chance to transition to business school, do what I love doing, and imagine even more possibilities down the road.